Poll: Americans fear foreign interference

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Most Americans are at least concerned about the potential for foreign interference in the November election and most believe that Russia tried to influence the 2016 contest, according to a new poll that reflects anxieties and political divisions as the campaign enters its final weeks.

The survey of the University of Chicago School of Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows that three-quarters of Americans are at least somewhat concerned about possible interference from other governments, whether in the form of manipulation of voting systems and election results, data theft of campaign teams, and influence over candidates or the way voters view them, but no more than half said they were “extremely” or “very” concerned about those possibilities.

The survey was conducted at a time when intelligence authorities warn of current efforts by foreign adversaries to interfere with U.S. policy

Including concerted russian management to denigrate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

 FBI Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers last month that Russia continued to use propaganda on social media to try to influence the election, though he said officials have not seen attacks on voting infrastructure. Officials added that they have no reports that other countries are trying to attack the voting process by mail.

The magnitude of concerns about interference in the 2020 election mostly follows partisan lines, with 68% of Biden supporters saying they are “extremely” or “very” concerned about foreign influence in how Americans perceive their candidates, according to the poll. Among Trump supporters, 30% are extremely or very concerned and 29% say they are somewhat concerned.

In theory, foreign interference or influence could take many forms. Apart from interfering with voting systems—which officials say would be difficult to do in a way that materially affects outcomes—or manipulate voters’ perceptions of candidates, there are fears about stealing information from a candidate or party or influencing the candidates themselves.

The AP-NORC survey of 1,053 adults was conducted from September 11-14 using a representative sample of the U.S. population. The margin of error is plus/minus 4.1 percentage points.

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